Associate Public Health Officer At United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)


Hardship Level

E (most hardship)

Family Type

Non Family


Family Type

Non FamilyDanger Pay

Residential location (if applicable)



Staff Member / Affiliate Type

National Professional OfficerReason

Regular > Regular Assignment

Remote work accepted


Target Start Date


Job Posting End Date

February 20, 2024


Standard Job Description

Associate Public Health Officer

Organizational Setting and Work Relationships
The Associate Public Health Officer is a member of a multidisciplinary team and will ensure that UNHCR’s public health programmes meet minimum UNHCR and global health standards in order to minimise avoidable morbidity and mortality among populations of concern (POC) and towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The incumbent provides strong and timely technical guidance to UNHCR senior management and partners including on the design and scope of UNHCR’s responses in health and nutrition, catalyses the engagement of other actors, supports resource mobilisation efforts including with the private sector and monitors the response. S/he has close contacts with internal and external stakeholders such as government counterparts, UN Agencies and embassies/donors.
The Associate Public Health Officer should also ensure consultation with communities seeking the diverse views of men, women, girls and boys, adolescents, youth, older persons, LGBTI persons, persons with disabilities , including people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, in assessing needs, designing, implementing and monitoring responses in line with UNHCR’s policy on age, gender and diversity mainstreaming.
Public Health programmes include primary health care, secondary health care, community health, reproductive health (including HIV), nutrition, MHPSS and health information systems. In addition to public health staff, major operations may also have dedicated staff focusing on any of these components but public health professionals are expected to be very conversant with reproductive health programming and ensure that minimum standards are met. Depending on the size of the operation the incumbent may be expected to have major responsibilities for nutrition and MHPSS responses. The incumbent will work with the (Senior) Programme Officer (or other designated staff member) to support operational collaboration and joint programming with WFP on nutrition and food security.
The Associate Public Health Officer is normally supervised by a Senior Public Health Officer or in the absence of such a position, by the Senior Operations/ Assistant Representative (Operations). The incumbent has a functional line with the Public Health Section in Geneva regarding authoritative guidance and support in technical matters and is expected to maintain regular contact with the PHS and the Regional Bureau.


All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR’s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.

Coordination and Partnership
– In the absence of more senior public health staff, co-ordinate public health, reproductive health, nutrition and HIV activities within the Area of Responsibility (AOR) in support of the government’s responses and in conjunction with other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other partners, including development actors to ensure delivery of public health and nutrition services to beneficiaries (POC and host community) meet UNHCR and /or nationally recognised and most up-to-date standards and policies.
– With support from the supervisor and Public Health Section in HQ, support the Operation to define the level and scope of UNHCR’s involvement in public health and nutrition responses in terms of overall and operational objectives during emergency situations and beyond.
– Support the Operation’s engagement in the public health related aspects of contributions of major donors to refugee responses, including the World Bank; taking part in assessments, design of projects, monitoring and evaluation.
– In line with the Global Compact on Refugees work with governments and humanitarian and development partners to ensure a complementary approach to meet the health needs of POCs.
– Represent UNHCR in health coordination and other meetings including inter-sectoral groups such as Technical Working Groups for MHPSS and nutrition.
– Engage in relevant partnership fora, including in line with UNHCR’s role as a UNAIDS co-sponsor of the Joint Programme on AIDS and co-lead with WFP of the Division of Labour area of HIV in Humanitarian Settings.
– Support operational collaboration with WFP including the implementation of Joint Assessment Missions and corresponding Joint Plans of Action in line with global commitments on targeting of assistance to meet basic needs and data sharing to support assistance distribution (in collaboration with programme and protection colleagues),
– Support robust and timely emergency responses to new refugee influxes or outbreaks or other situations in line with the Public Health Emergency Toolkit and UNHCR’s Emergency Handbook and the SPHERE Handbook.

Strategic planning and development
– Contribute to the implementation of UNHCR’s Strategic Plan for Public Health and adaptation at country level.
– Work with others in UNHCR to advocate for refugees’, returnees’ and other POC’s access to local public health, reproductive health (RH) and HIV, MHPSS and nutrition services (including food assistance where relevant) and lobby for inclusion of refugees, returnees and other POC as a specific group in government policies and plans related to health, RH and HIV as well as major donor programmes such as the Global Fund for HIV, TB and Malaria.
– Make recommendations on the overall strategy and focus of public health and nutrition programmes within the AOR, including ensuring public health strategic approaches are developed in a multi-sectoral and co-ordinated manner.
– Provide up to date assessments and identification of needs for public health strategies, recognise and support the contributions of governments and other actors align with and support national health system as much as possible;
– Contribute to public health strategies addressing known gaps in health and nutrition programming based on country-specific needs assessments with due consideration to neonatal and maternal health care, TB, HIV and viral hepatitis, non-communicable diseases including mental health; palliative care, health services for LGBTI individuals, health and protection services for persons selling sex and programming for persons with disabilities including access to assistive technologies and appropriate associated services, adolescents and the elderly.
– Support the development and monitoring of country specific medium to long term inclusion plans in support of the Ministry of Health and other relevant Ministries (e.g. Social Welfare) and in partnership with development and other actors.
– Work with stakeholders, including UN agencies, NGOs, Ministries of Health and academic institutions in the development of public health response plans associated with refugee movements (including in repatriation programmes).
– Maintain and update contingency plans within the AOR for potential epidemics, refugee and returnee movements.

Technical integrity and risk mitigation
– Update and disseminate standard practices on public health, MHPSS, nutrition, HIV and reproductive health among partners.
– Support the prioritization of primary health care (including preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care)
– Monitor, in close co-ordination with other humanitarian actors, that health care services provided to POC are based on Ministry of Health, UNHCR and/or internationally recognized and most up-to-date standards and policies.
– Adapt UNHCR internal operating procedures to ensure they are in line with UNHCR and/or international standards and improve efficiency of programme activities; this includes – but is not limited to – referral health care, medicines and medical supplies procurement and management, medical resettlement and resettlement of persons with health needs, cash-based assistance for health care coverage and referral between units and inter-sectoral collaboration.
– Monitor and support compliance with, and integrity of, all public health standard operating procedures in conjunction with Project Control and Programme staff and in line with delegated authorities, including flagging to senior managers when these are not in line with global guidance or not being followed.

– Support linkages of public health to WASH programmes throughout all stages of the programme cycle including in outbreak preparedness and response, emergency responses to refugee influxes, WASH in health facilities, and menstrual hygiene management.
– Support inter-sector collaboration throughout all stages of programme cycle between public health and nutrition with WASH, education, environment, shelter, and protection in order to promote synergies and maximise impact.
– Participate in the review and analysis of relevant project proposals and budgetary submissions presented by UNHCR partners within the context of the UNHCR programming cycle and highlight divergence from internationally accepted standards.
– Seek the diverse views of men, women, girls and boys, adolescents, youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and LGBTI in assessing needs, designing, implementing and monitoring responses in line with UNHCR’s policy on age, gender and diversity mainstreaming.
– Support the implementation of the UNHCR Health Information System and other relevant data collection tools including the balanced scorecard, maternal and neonatal death audits, Health Access and Utilisation Survey and other corporate tools where relevant; support the analysis, interpretation and use of public health data.
– Advocate for the inclusion of refugees and other POC in national surveys such as demographic and health surveys, multi-indicator cluster surveys, AIDS indicator surveys including where possible a separate sample for refugees allowing for comparisons and trend analysis over time.
– Support national health systems to disaggregate data by refugee and nationals in key areas based on country specific needs in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
– Support the monitoring of public health and nutrition programmes against standard UNHCR and international indicators, to ensure that programmes are evidence-based and implemented in a comprehensive and cost-effective manner.
– Support the planning, implementation, analysis, dissemination and use of nutritional surveys (Standardized Expanded Nutrition Surveys, SENS), health-related surveys and post-distribution monitoring exercises (in collaboration with WFP).
– In line with policies for Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) ensure POC have access to feedback and accountability mechanisms relating to public health and nutrition services including the collection and analysis of data on their satisfaction with regards to public health and nutrition services.
– Prepare regular sectoral reports and submit material for preparation of periodic project monitoring reports as required by the office at country level.
– Provide timely updates to enable adequate reporting and briefings to donors and management.

Capacity Building
– Support capacity strengthening of UNHCR and its implementing partners to address public health, nutrition, reproductive health, HIV, MHPSS programming in a co-ordinated, multi-sectoral way and disseminate relevant guidelines and information materials.
– Undertake and/or support capacity building needs assessments of UNHCR staff and partners and develop approaches to address capacity gaps including identifying internal and external training opportunities.


– Support the identification and management of risks and seek to seize opportunities impacting objectives in the area of responsibility. Ensure decision making in risk based in the functional area of work. Raise risks, issues and concerns to a supervisor or to relevant functional colleague(s).

– Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications

Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P2/NOB – 3 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 2 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 1 year relevant experience with Doctorate degree

Field(s) of Education
Medicine, Medical Science, Medical Doctor, Nursing, Public Health
or other relevant field.

Certificates and/or Licenses
(Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Relevant Job Experience
Knowledge of public health, reproductive health and nutrition in humanitarian situations.
Exposure to UNHCR mandate, its priorities and principles.
Good communicator with strong interpersonal and negotiations skills.

Additional qualifications in Nutrition and WASH and a thorough understanding of the linkages with public health and food security.
Ability to coordinate a range of diverse actors and activities to achieve a common objective in the area of Public Health.

Functional Skills
EL-Monitoring and Evaluation
FO-Complex field emergency operations
MD-Reproductive Health
PH- Public Health Epidemiology
PH-Community Health-Health Data Collection/Analysis/Interpretation
UN-UN/UNHCR Mandate and Global Strategic Priorities
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Language Requirements
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.
For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language.
For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English.

All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination and abuse of power.

As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise.

This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.

Desired Candidate Profile

– Good knowledge and awareness about MOH health system, including the roles of other governmental and non-governmental parties;
– Experience in drafting strategies, SOPs including operationalization and implementation;
– Experience in representing agency at the level of the Health Sector including collaboration with other health agencies and different units within the organization;
– Experience in leading/supporting an emergency response in health sector;
– Managerial experience in supervising staff directly, but also providing guidance to the offices in the field;
– Experience in developing and conducting capacity building session for health staff;
– Understanding and experience related to the programme management.

– This position requires a functional clearance.

Shortlisted candidates will be required to sit for Complementary Written test: Candidates sitting for the test will also be given a chance to sit for the interview. The scores of the test will be combined with that of the interview to arrive at the final score.

When completing the application, candidates are required to list all their language skills – including their mother tongue. The three broad levels are A1/A2 (“Basic User”), B1/B2 (“Independent User”), and C1/C2 (“Proficient User

In line with Recruitments and Assignments Policy, para 131 and 132, full consideration will be given to current GS and NO staff members, respectively, holding an Indefinite or Fixed-term appointment at the date of the deadline for application, who are serving in the country of the vacancy at the grade or one grade below or above, as well as any candidates serving at higher grades who fulfil the criteria for consideration on a preferred basis as per paragraph 136, before considering other candidates. If other candidates are considered, those with UNHCR-experience will be given favorable consideration before external candidates.”

Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):




Desired languages



Operational context

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:

Nature of Position:

This position is part of the Programme Unit at the Country Office Damascus. The incumbent will act as a head of health technical unit reporting to the Assistant Representative Programme and have several national staff reporting to him/her. Responsibilities also include guidance and close collaboration with the Heath Focal Points in the S/F Offices.

The conflict in Syria, which began in 2011, has resulted in widespread displacement, both internally and externally. Many Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries, while others have been internally displaced within Syria. The humanitarian needs in Syria remain immense, with millions of people requiring assistance, including food, shelter, healthcare, and education. The conflict has had a devastating impact on infrastructure and basic services which is coupled with tremendous challenges on the socio-economic side. Syria continues to grapple with volatile security, while in many parts of the country active hostilities are ongoing. The conflict has led to significant protection challenges, with many individuals facing different protection related risks including a lack of access to essential services. Thus, ensuring the protection of vulnerable populations, including women and children, has been a key focus for the UNHCR.

The UNHCR, along with other humanitarian organizations and partners in close collaboration with the governmental counterparts is actively involved in providing aid and support to the asylum seekers and refugees residing in Syria, along with the internally displaced persons. This includes the provision of shelter, food assistance, healthcare, and education. UNHCR continues working closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that refugees receive the health services they need at sufficient quality to be effective without suffering financial hardship. Public health programming is life saving and life sustaining. It consists of a wide range of measures and services from preventive, promotive and curative primary health care; sexual and reproductive health, HIV; nutrition; mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS); rehabilitative services; palliative care; referral care to secondary and tertiary level; community health; surveillance and monitoring of health information; and behaviour change communication. The UNHCR works closely with various partners and plays an active role within the Health Sector Led by WHO. Its activities are closely coordinated with other UN agencies doing health, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and host government, to address the complex humanitarian situation in Syria. Coordination and collaboration are crucial to providing effective and limited resources are channeled to address the most critical needs and offer solution-oriented approaches.

Living and Working Conditions:

This national position that is based in Damascus.

Additional Qualifications


EL-Monitoring and Evaluation, FO-Complex field emergency operations, MD-Reproductive Health, PH-Community Health-Health Data Collection/Analysis/Interpretation, PH- Public Health Epidemiology, UN-UN/UNHCR Mandate and Global Strategic Priorities


Bachelor of Arts (BA): Medical Doctor, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Medical Science, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Medicine, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Nursing, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Public HealthCertifications

Epidemiology – Other

Work Experience


Accountability, Analytical thinking, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Judgement & decision making, Managing performance, Managing resource, Organizational awareness, Planning & organizing, Stakeholder management, Teamwork & collaboration

UNHCR Salary Calculator


Additional Information

Functional clearance

This position requires Functional Clearance

Download our App Now

Join Our Telegram Channel